Parents Log On For Elder Care Help

If you've never heard of the "Sandwich Generation" let Noreen Simone explain, if you can keep up.

Like some 34 million other parents, she's sandwiched between taking care of her young children. And taking care of her aging father-in-law, Nick Simone.

The dilemma? How to balance the minivan madness and be a loving caregiver.

As CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports, the answer turned out to be at her fingertips - a personal Web site that tracks her father-in-law's movements - even his visits to the bathroom, as unobtrusively as possible.

Motion detectors, offered by ADT, were strategically placed all over in his apartment. They don't take pictures of him -- they just log his daily activities.

One points down at his pillbox, so Noreen can see if and when he's taking his medication.

"Usually when I take my medicine this thing flicks," Nick says.

"This is a way for him to stay independent as possible and yet still have someone watching over him," Noreen says.

Systems like this are not without critics who fear it's like Big Brother gone to med school, but Nick doesn't seem to mind.

"It's a simple little tool, a white tool, what the hell is it going to do to me," he says.

"It's just one in a series of wired "tools" to help give caregivers a bit of a break. For example, there's a talking pill bottle.

They're all so a caregiver doesn't have to be there to doll out the daily regimen.

IBM has even been researching a "smart shelf" that can detect dangerous drug combinations. It can warn that an off-the-shelf medication has possible interactions with other medication currently being taken.

This was all the stuff of science fiction when Nick was a boy. But the future is here, giving caregivers like Noreen a few more hours in the day and giving her father-in-law a chance to remain independent.